Abstract: Gentrification in the Twin Cities: Centering Community-Based Efforts at Mitigating the Negative Impact (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

193P Gentrification in the Twin Cities: Centering Community-Based Efforts at Mitigating the Negative Impact

Friday, January 17, 2020
Marquis BR Salon 6 (ML 2) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Brittany Lewis, PhD, Senior Research Associate, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, MN
Molly Calhoun, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, St. Paul, MN
Edward Goetz, PhD, Professor of Urban and Regional Planning and Director of CURA, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, MN
Anthony Damiano, MURP, Doctoral Candidate, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, MN
Background and Purpose: Across the United States, gentrification pressures have created an urgency for the development and enforcement of equitable and inclusive policies to support historic residents in maintaining residence in vulnerable neighborhoods. Although researchers often rely on academic and empirical literature to develop recommendations for future theory, policy and practice, community-engaged scholarship elevates the expertise and knowledge of residents and practitioners in gentrifying neighborhoods. As part of a larger mixed methodological project on gentrification in the Twin Cities, the research team worked with 10 local community-based organizations leading anti-gentrification work. The purpose of this project is twofold: 1) to outline the dynamic processes of gentrification from which practitioners work and 2) to broaden the approaches from which we build programs and policies to mitigate the negative impact of gentrification pressures. 

Methods: The larger gentrification study was conducted using a sequential mixed-methods design which analyzed the census tracts in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, as well as included 89 semi-structured interviews with local government officials, neighborhood leaders, and residential stakeholders. For the policy portion of this project, semi-structured interviews were conducted with a total of 10 regionally located leaders of community-based organizations. Each of the local organizations were purposefully sampled based on the critical nature of grassroots efforts in mitigating gentrification effects. Organizations were sampled in both Minneapolis and St. Paul. Interviews included information on each group’s mission, goals, day-to-day operations, successful initiatives, and public policy imperatives. Follow-up contact was made to increase the reliability of data. All interviews were transcribed verbatim and subsequently coded using discourse analysis. 

Results: Findings suggest four distinct yet overlapping stages of gentrification from which community-based organizations enter anti-gentrification work: 1) Disinvestment, 2) Deficit narratives, 3) Reinvestment in neighborhoods and 4) Multiple forms of displacement. This work illustrates a dynamic, long-term process of gentrification that is embedded in historic urban policy. Additionally, each organization centers the impact of gentrification pressure on low-wealth, communities of color, yet enters the work from different perspectives including prevention, mitigation and minimizing the impact of displacement. Overall, these organizations work to build and rebuild relationships, knowledge, leadership and coalitions to change policy, redirect resources to build economic and political power for historic residents, and shift the narrative for low-wealth communities and communities of color across the Twin Cities community.

Conclusions and Implications: Although these community-based organizations are not representative of all anti-gentrification efforts, they provide insight into innovative policy and practice solutions, as well as illustrate broader approaches that scholars, educators and practitioners can use in the future. Additionally, social workers are charged to support historic residents who are vulnerable to increased marginalization as a result of the negative impacts of gentrification. Understanding the approaches of grassroots organizations can only support future work in this area.